15 Sept 2014
TGEU welcomes the decision of the Norwegian Equality Body outlawing forced sterilisation, necessary for a change of gender marker, as discriminatory. On Sept 9, the Norwegian Equality Ombud Ørstavik, took a decision in the case of John Jeanette Solstad Remø. The Equality Body found that the responsible Ministry of Health could not provide substantive arguments to uphold the sterilization requirement, but referred to an practice established since the 50s. Remø had complained about the requirement to undergo sterilisation before being recognized as female.
Norwegian Ombud Sunniva Ørstavik commented: “The health authorities provide no justification for that one should have to go through these major physical changes in order to live as one feels. This requirement is contrary to the Anti-Discrimination Act.”
“The current practice smells of discrimination and shameful history. It is high time that this changes.”
John Jeanette Remø says: “I had hoped for this conclusion, and would be surprised if it was possible to arrive at anything else. But this is a big day, an important milestone.”
Stein Wolff Frydenlund, TGEU Steering Committee member, comments: “The Ministry of Health has now time until Mid October to submit their comments to the decision. However, it is unlikely that they will challenge the decision.”
TGEU Executive Director Julia Ehrt comments: “ We welcome this decision as long-time overdue. However, it now needs swift legal implementation. We call on policy makers to go further and remove also other medical aspects, such as a mandatory mental health diagnosis, from Norwegian legal gender recognition procedures. Medical and legal issues need to be completely separated in what should be a simple administrative procedure. ”
The case received significant attention in Norway, a country traditionally proud of its human rights record as Amnesty International Norway had started a petition for John Jeanette.
Transgender Europe is a European human rights NGO working for the human rights and equality of all trans people. More Information: www.tgeu.org
Transgender or Trans is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity or expression differs from the sex assigned to them at birth.
TGEU Senior Policy Officer Richard Köhler is available for interviews and questions and can be reached at:
phone: +49 (0)30 5360 2668